North Texas Daily

‘Dune’ adapts the classic sci-fi story in breathtaking fashion

‘Dune’ adapts the classic sci-fi story in breathtaking fashion

‘Dune’ adapts the classic sci-fi story in breathtaking fashion
November 15
19:44 2021

By Logan Thomson

Frank Herbert’s seminal science fiction novel “Dune” is comparable to only a few in its genre in regard to impact and influence. Long considered “unfilmable” after numerous projects were canned or unsuccessful, 2021 has given us another adaptation from Denis Villenueve. With modern technology, a slew of A-list talent and an immense passion for the series, the acclaimed filmmaker successfully adheres to the spirit of this beloved story and grounds it in his own distinct vision, which is as engaging as it is beautiful to look at. 

Roughly adapting the first half of the original book, “Dune” follows Paul Artreides (Timoethée Chalamet), the heir of one of many royal families seeking control and power on a galactic scale. His mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) is a member of a mysterious organization of powerful women who see Paul as a potential messiah figure. Simultaneously, the head of the family Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) has recently acquired the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, known for its valuable substance spice melange. However, their rival House Harkonnen has plotted for their downfall in an attempt to reclaim the planet for themselves.

Is it a lot to take in? No doubt, especially for those unfamiliar with the books and mythology. “Dune” requires its viewers to focus and take the stakes seriously. Villeneuve and co-writers Jon Spaights and Eric Roth go about juggling loaded exposition filled with sci-fi terminology alongside character relationships and surprising story directions with thought and purpose. Although I would have loved more time to really sink my teeth into the political aspects of the story, it still gets a lot across in 155 minutes without distracting from the main plot at hand. 

The aforementioned Chalamet, Ferguson and Isaac really sell their complex family dynamic as well as the internal and external struggles each face. The supporting cast ranges from brief but key appearances from Arrakis natives portrayed by Zendaya and Javier Bardem to Stellan Skarsgård and Dave Bautista chewing the scenery as the universe’s most evil bad guys, but it’s Jason Mamoa as the charismatic warrior Duncan Idaho who shines brightest.

It’s also hard to not completely go head over heels for the movie’s visual and auditory accomplishments. Combined with an unreal mix of practical and visual effects, what Villenueve and cinematographer Greg Fariser capture is haunting, inspiring and undeniably gorgeous. The creative soundscape consisting of buzzing aerial ships and gigantic worms terrifyingly shifting in the sands is truly impressive, and Hans Zimmer’s enchanting and propulsive score is a perfect cherry on top. 

By the time “Dune” gets to its numerous and thrillingly staged set pieces in the second half, it is so satisfying and more than earned. However, the story is not over — the last line from Zendaya’s Chani teases both the path our characters will go down and the audience for a potential second film. But where most other tentpole blockbusters feel baity and uneven with similar proposals, this legitimately feels like a promise that what could, and ideally should, come next will be immensely satisfying for those willing to go to the end. It’s hard not to be enticed to see what the cast and crew do next when what is presented is already so enticing on numerous levels. Time will tell how this will fair, but for the optimistic present, consider me delighted. 

Logan’s final rating: 4.5/5

Image source Warner Bros.

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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